From: Reuters
Published November 3, 2006 12:00 AM

Indian PM Slams Ozone Pact over Trade Sanctions

NEW DELHI — India's prime minister on Thursday criticised an international pact that aims to protect the ozone layer, saying its inclusion of trade sanctions could hurt economic growth and efforts to eradicate poverty.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer commits signatory nations to progressively ban the use of products that hurt the layer. It was one of the first environmental pacts to use the threat of trade sanctions to achieve its goals.

"A provision in the protocol that enables the use of trade restrictions to ensure compliance is a source of concern," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told delegates from about 160 countries at a meeting to review the Montreal Protocol.

"Such restrictions may adversely impact economic growth prospects and poverty alleviation efforts."

The treaty -- which scientists say has played a large part in helping to heal atmospheric damage -- requires that signatories ban all imports of a range of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from non-signatory states.

It also stipulates that signatories may not export such substances to nations that have not signed the pact.

India is among 144 countries to have signed and ratified the agreement. Six nations have signed but not ratified.

Proponents of the treaty defend the sanctions, saying the depletion of the ozone layer is an environmental problem most effectively addressed at the global level.

Without trade sanctions, non-signatories would increase production and damage the competitiveness of industries in signatory nations, as well as hurt the search for less-damaging CFC alternatives, they say.

But Singh urged members to be "more creative and less adversarial" in their approach to complying with environmental pacts.

"Let us not seek trade advantages through the instrument of environmental treaties. This would nullify gains for developing countries accomplished after strenuous negotiations in the World Trade Organisation regime," he said.

Source: Reuters

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